September 2012 Archives
We can email someone anytime, anywhere. We can instant message or text people in real time. We can conduct virtual meetings from our home office. And we can receive a myriad of updates that concern our lives from small portable mobile devices. That should make our lives easier, right? Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and this was recently highlighted in a story in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The reality is that these technological advances put much more information at our fingertips. They provide opportunities for people to connect with us at a moment’s notice, and they can improve our ability to navigate the different areas of our lives.
However, these tools also have to be managed if they are to work properly. When the desire for (or demands of) constant connection start to drive our behavior, we begin to burn ourselves out. We continuously shift our attention from one thing to another, which can actually cause performance decrements. It takes time to get into a productive mode. You cannot simply sit down and be automatically engrossed in whatever it is you are doing. You have to develop momentum. And every time we shift our attention away from what we are doing – to respond to a text message, to check and see who just emailed us, or to post a twitter update – we lose some of that momentum. We end up engaging in constant multitasking, which is nothing but a shifting of attention between competing activities. And that has negative repercussions for our performance.
So, we have all this terrific technology that can make our lives easier. Like a child with a new toy, we become engrossed in it, and it becomes integrated into the way we live our lives. The upside is that we can have immediate access to the myriad domains of our lives, but the downside is that others now have instant access to us, too.
And that’s when we need to remember the importance of ground rules. We need to proactively manage that instant access (when possible). We can then grant instant access when we have the resources (like time and energy) to do so, while minimizing that access when we do not. Set blackout periods, especially when trying to engage in something that demands your full attention. These don’t have to be rigid in their scheduling, but when you need or want to be truly focused on something, take the steps necessary to allow that to happen. Turn off alerts (like the obnoxious noise that Outlook makes when you get a new email) that can disrupt your flow and focus.
There are times when instant access is necessary and important, and times when it is not. Getting a better handle on technology involves figuring out how to have the best of both worlds. And that means being proactive, not reactive.
Every job has its ups and downs. This year, to take the pulse of the workforce and hear a little more about people’s experiences at work, we went out and talked with six people from very different professions. Part 3 of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program's video series "Six Degrees of Bringing Home the Bacon" follows Steve, a floral designer and business owner.
How stressful is your job? What motivates you to do your best work? How do you cope with a tough day? What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your job? Stay tuned as we continue the series each month, with new videos that feature a television news reporter, a Pilates instructor and an entrepreneur.
If you missed the introduction to our series, you can check it out here.
Labor Day weekend is over. Schools are open and pools are closed, but the contributions of American workers continue. In the spirit of recognizing employees who promote and support the well-being of others, here is our favorite August submission from our I Love My Job campaign...
Dana Decker, a Registered Respiratory Therapist at North Central Health Care - Northwinds Vent Community in Wausau, WI, says helping people with advanced chronic respiratory needs maintain a high quality of life and the facility's family-oriented setting make it a great place to work.
I love working in an environment that promotes patients' well being," said Dana. "Even though on ventilators, our patients live their lives to the fullest, and thrive." She added, "I feel as if going to work is like going home to spend time with family. How lucky am I?"
We launched our I Love My Job campaign in February to highlight the positive aspects of work. Each month, we feature submissions on our social media pages and recognize the person who submits our favorite entry with some special treats to share with his or her co-workers.
What do you love about your job? Let us know.